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Superorganism: “Fame is Pretty Messed Up and Doesn’t Seem All That Fun”

The wait for more hyper-sensory pop from London-based collective Superorganism is over. Four years separated the release of Superorganism’s self-titled debut from their new album, World Wide Pop. And at times, you had to wonder whether the sugar-loaded experimental pop outfit wasn’t just a flash in the pan.

The collective convened in London a short time before releasing their 2018 debut album. They struck gold with the single ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D.’ in 2017, a track that had its origins in an online, transhemispheric collaboration. This was enough to encourage Japanese born vocalist and lyricist Orono Noguchi to abandon university plans in the USA and move to London to join the rest of the group.

The remainder of Superorganism – which currently includes a total of five members – had relocated to the UK capital from New Zealand and Australia. Once Superorganism came out in March 2018, the band got busy with a series of international tours, including their first Australian visit for Splendour in the Grass 2018.

Along the way, Superorganism made a lot of new friends, such as Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus and the pride of Nagoya, CHAI, who’re just some of the guests to appear on World Wide Pop, an album that comprehensively lives up to its title. Music Feeds got in touch with Orono via email to chat about the new record, the band’s self-perception and their friends in high places.

Superorganism – ‘Teenager’ feat. CHAI & Pi Ja Ma

Music Feeds: World Wide Pop starts with ‘Black Hole Baby’, which includes snippets of various radio hosts lavishing praise on Superorganism. The track also features the hook, “Welcome back to black hole honey,” with a cheerful “welcome back” backup vocal. Were you trying to downplay expectations by sort of making a joke out of them with this song?

Orono Noguchi: Not really. To me, it’s more of a doomsday celebration track about doing another album cycle, because the music industry is just a big black hole.

MF: When you made your first album, the project was relatively fresh and you’d spent only a limited amount of time working together as a collective. Were you able to harvest a similar level of energy and enthusiasm when you began working on World Wide Pop?

Orono: It’s been five years since the band started, one-point-five years since I started therapy and the success of our band is still something I’m not totally sure about. But it doesn’t really matter too, because all this crap we’ve been doing, we’d probably be doing it regardless of whether or not the band was “successful.” So to answer your question, it wasn’t all that different.

MF: Despite all the flowery commendations heard on ‘Black Hole Baby’, you aren’t quite pop star-level famous, but you did experience a considerable rise to international recognition with Superorganism. How prepared were you for that? And have you had to lean on one another to stop it from going to your heads?

Orono: When I read the part of your question that said “you aren’t quite pop star-level famous,” I was like “Ummmm excuse me, what are you talking about yes we totally are!” But actually nah you’re probably right, I’m just roleplaying as Hannah Montana in my head (like 89% of the time.)

And no, no one is prepared to become “famous”, which I don’t really consider ourselves to be anyway. Fame is pretty messed up and doesn’t seem all that fun, so it’s not something any of us are interested in.

Superorganism – Something For Your M.I.N.D.

MF: World Wide Pop has loads of special guests; some venerable names and some like-minded contemporaries. Was having guests on the album one of the primary goals for World Wide Pop?

Orono: It wasn’t a goal necessarily. It’s more something that came together naturally. We just ended up making so many friends all over the world – not just musicians – so it made sense to get as many buds as possible involved.

MF: Of the album’s guests, CHAI and Gen Hoshino are Japanese, Pi Ja Ma and Axel Concato are French, Stephen Malkmus is American (and Boa Constrictors, too?), and Dylan Cartlidge is English. Is the album title a reflection of your vision for the Superorganism project?

Orono: Boa Constrictors is American, yes. Actually, he is an American hero. Again, this wasn’t something that we decided on super consciously, but yeah, the title did end up reflecting that international vibe going on in the record, which is cool.

MF: Superorganism songs typically encompass a spectrum of emotions and contrasting energies. You have an enigmatic presence as a lead vocalist, which a contrast to the excitable background vocals and hyperactive sound effects, for example. Were you able to welcome the voices and creative ideas of outside contributors without much friction?

Orono: Oo I’m an enigma? That’s cool. And ummm yeah it was chill, not much friction. We’re not fans of conflict. Not our preferred method of making sick art either.

Superorganism – ‘Into the Sun’ feat. Gen Hoshino, Stephen Malkmus, Pi Ja Ma

MF: You’ve been special guests yourselves on CHAI’s ‘Hero Journey’ and Gen Hoshino’s ‘Same Thing’. Do you feel like you’re building a network with contemporary musicians who have a similar outlook to your own?

Orono: Me personally, not really. I’m not trying to go out of my way to do that. I’m just kinda doing my own thing. Making friends is cool though. But the more musicians I meet and interact with, I think to myself that I won’t ever be eating lunch at the cool kids table (and I like it that way.)

MF: Stephen Malkmus is an indie rock hero and a big influence on Superorganism. What’s he been like to work with?

Orono: He is basically a super chill, super cool dad. Very easy and fun to work with, and of course his brain is full of crazy, weird, awesome ideas. He’s the man.

MF: You’re doing appearances at several record stores around the UK when the album comes out and you’re also hosting a listening party at a record store in Melbourne in early August. Are you record collectors/record store nerds yourselves?

Orono: I only have a handful of records. My collection consists of my favourite albums when I was in high school, gifts from friends, and a couple ones I snatched at the Domino offices.

Superorganism Australia 2022

Thursday, 4th August – Phoenix Central Park, Sydney

Friday, 5th August  – Album Party at Sound Merch, Melbourne

World Wide Pop is out now.

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